Bhubaneswar, Aug 7: The controversy over the release of a leopard that had strayed into Sonepur town last month was laid to rest this evening with the forest department deciding to free the big cat from the Nandankanan Zoological Park.
The zoo authorities have been asked to hand over the leopard to the Rairakhol divisional forest officer, who will find a suitable area to release the animal into the wild.
“We will make arrangements to carry the leopard within one or two days and hand over the animal to the divisional forest officer in Rairakhol,” said Chitta Ranjan Mishra, deputy director of Nandankanan Zoological Park.
Earlier, the release of the animal had evoked different views from wildlife lovers. While one section stuck to their demand to release the animal into the wild, another section pitched for keeping the animal in the zoo citing man-animal conflict.
“If the leopard fails to adapt to the wild, there is a chance of the animal intruding into human habitats. At the same time chances of poaching of the animal cannot be ruled out,” said animal activist J.B Dash.
On the other hand, state forest and environment minister Bijayshree Routray has been insisting on releasing the animal into the wild.
On Monday Routray also held discussions with principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) J.D. Sharma over the matter.